What impact will Aluth Avurudu nekatha have on Government?

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2017-04-16

BY GAGANI WEERAKOON

Tipped to go for a Cabinet reshuffle in the coming weeks and a May Day rally that would once again gauge the true powers of the incumbent President, versus the former, President Sirisena last Tuesday (11) made some dramatic changes in the Kurunegala District party hierarchical order.

The move was described as replacing the inefficient and the hated, with the efficient and popular, and was a segment of the Party revamping strategy.

Kurunegala District MP and former Cooperatives and Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando who is a Rajapaksa ally, has been removed from the post of SLFP Organizer for the Nikaweratiya electorate. He has been replaced by Deputy Minister of Housing and Construction Indika Bandaranayake. In another move, Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera has also been shifted from the Kurunegala electorate to Panduwasnuwara.

"We have sacked not only Johnston from the organizer's post in Nikaweratiya, but also Tikiri Adhikari from the organizer's post at Polgahawela and Ramanayake from Kurunegala,"UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera said. He added that Tikiri Adhikari has been replaced by Jayaratne Herath in Polgahawela and Ramanayake has been replaced by Lakshman Wendaruwa in Kurunegala. Amaraweera said this was all in the bid to revamp the SLFP grassroots structure and to get rid of the inefficient and replace them with the efficient and popular. He also said the new appointments were made only for Johnston Fernando and Tikiri Adhikari as Ramanayake was sacked earlier.

Interestingly, President Sirisena appointed a host of new electoral organizers in April 2016 too, who were popularly known as Rajapaksa allies.

President Sirisena, on 28 April 2016, appointed eleven new electorate and district organizers of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and removed SLFP Parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe from her post of SLFP Chief Organizer of the Bentara-Elpitiya electorate.

Pradeep Jayewardene, grandson of former President J. R. Jayewardene was appointed SLFP Gampaha District Organizer and senior politician C. B. Ratnayake's brother, M.S. B. Ratnayake was appointed as the SLFP organizer for the Nuwara Eliya electorate. Provincial Councillor Kamal Indika became the new organizer for the Hiriyala electorate.

Other new appointees of the SLFP were Gamini de Silva and Buddhika Iddamalgoda (Colombo District), Manula Chamal Perera (Kalutara District), Piyal Dharshana Guruge (Galle District), Nalin Pushpakumara (Kegalle District), Thushara Tilakaratne (Kurunegala District), and former Chairman of Bentota Pradesheeya Sabha, Gayan Krishan Sirimanna and former Chairman of Elpitiya Pradesheeya Sabha, Amila Harshana Kariyawasam (Co-organizers of Bentara-Elpitiya electorate).

Speaking to the newly appointed organizers, President Sirisena said they should be totally committed to people-friendly clean politics. He also said, the party organizers should understand their responsibilities towards the SLFP and shun corruption and malpractices.

Earlier, twenty six new SLFP District and Electoral organizers were appointed by the President in February 2016. They would replace some of the highly vociferous government critics and those agitating to form a new political party even at the risk of splitting the party.

Prominent among those overlooked in the appointments were parliamentarian Prasanna Ranatunga, a former Western Province Chief Minister and Minuwangoda SLFP organizer; Dilum Amunugama, Kandy District SLFP member and former Senkadagala SLFP organizer; Dhanasiri Amaratunga, former Dehiwala-Mt. Lavinia organizer and Deputy Mayor and Kanthi Kodikara, former Mayor of Maharagama and the SLFP organizer for the Maharagama electorate. The President also appointed Vocational Training and Skills Development Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe as SLFP organizer for Panadura, Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya for Maharagama, Kirthi Udawatta for Dehiwala-Mt. Lavania, former Kotikawatte-Mulleriyawa Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Prasanga Solangaarachchi as Kolonnawa organizer; Provincial Councillor Hector Bethmage as a District Organizer for Colombo and Sumith Vijayamuni Soysa for Avissawella.

He also appointed Ruwan Ranatunga as SLFP organizer for Minuwangoda. Ruwan Sanjaya Siriwardena as co-organizer for Mirigama, Western Province Minister Ranjith Somawansa as SLFP organizer for Agalawatta, Western Province Minister, Sumith Lal Mendis as co-organizer for the Kalutara District, Southern Province Minister Chandima Rasaputra, State Minister of Finance Lakshman Yapa Abeygunawardana's son and Provincial Councillor Pasanda Yapa Abeywardena and Nalin Ranaweera as district organizers. S. B. Dissanayake has been appointed SLFP organizer for Hewaheta and Provincial Councillor Thilina Bandara Tennakoon for Udunuwara. Central Provincial Councillor Manel Bandara Abeyratne has been appointed SLFP organizer for Udunuwara, Mahinda Abeykoon for Kandy while former minister M. K.D.S. Gunawardana's son Nalin has been appointed party organizer for Seruwila and Muhammad Samzan as electoral organizer for Akurana. Other SLFP district organizers are Sujeewa Chandrasiri for Colombo, Anju Sri Shyam Perera for Gampaha, Asanka Ediriweera for Kalutara, Provincial Councillors Channa Saliya Mendis and Thisara Gunasinghe for Galle.

This change however, came at a time SLFP youth wing is demanding new SLFP organizers be appointed to each electorate in place of the present organizers who do not work for the betterment of the party and disobey its leadership, National Youth Front (NYF) Chairman Shantha Bandara said.

Bandara said all SLFP organizers who do not attend the May Day rally in Kandy and those who are not assisting in organizing the rally will be removed.

"If one does not assist in organizing the May Day rally or does not attend the rally it indicates that he or she is not a real SLFP organizer.

"They should be removed from their positions and new persons who dedicate themselves to the party should be appointed. The party cannot be moved forward unless they are removed," he said.

He said President Sirisena had been waiting patiently for two years without taking any tough decision against the organizers who behave in an antagonistic manner towards the party while representing the Joint Opposition.

"If it was former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, he would not wait more than two years to remove these persons," he said.

JO May Day rally

This indirect warning comes at a time where Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has given directives to the Ministry of Law and Order to provide full security and provide all that is required for the May Day Rally of the Joint Opposition, scheduled to be held at the Galle Face Green.

Though many may question Prime Minister Wickremesinghe's true intentions behind this enthusiasm shown towards the Joint Opposition, its members may have realized the government's true intentions by now.

Hence, Convener of the Joint Opposition (JO) Provincial Councillor Prasanna Ranatunga said the entire country, including the government, will be able to witness the power of the JO on 1 May, at the Galle Face Green, during the May Day Celebrations.

"When we requested the Galle Face Green for our May Day Celebrations, the government refused to grant permission. Later they agreed to give permission saying that the JO will not be able to gather crowds. The JO is ready to prove the government wrong on 1 May," he said, at a public event at Udugampola.

Moreover, the government should not be allowed to continue with their actions which are unfavourable to the country and to the citizenry. Therefore, the people should take to the roads and raise their voices against the misdeeds of the government if they want to protect their rights, he added.

"The people in general are highly frustrated about the government they elected. The citizenry do not want to discuss anything about politics due to that frustration. But they should not remain silent because the government will use it for its own benefits," he pointed out.

Ranatunga may have spoken on his political agenda, yet he most certainly could not have missed the part about the public, especially those who voted this government into power, being frustrated.

It is not only the cost of living that led people losing faith in the government but the Tamil people who kept faith on the government over the Rajapaksa administration.

Sampanthan gets tough

This became clear when Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan recently warned that if the grievances of the Tamils were not addressed properly, Maithri-Ranil Government would be ousted from power.

He was addressing an event in Vavuniya last Monday (10), at which 150 houses, constructed in the Sinna Adampan village in Vavuniya, by the London-based Lyca organization, were handed over to their prospective occupants. The houses were constructed at a cost of Rs 23 million by Lyca.

Sampanthan along with Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran participated in the event where Lyca's Chairman Gnanampikai Alliraja handed over the new houses to the beneficiaries.

Speaking at the event, Sampanthan said: "The government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has taken certain initiatives to solve the long-standing humanitarian problems of Tamils in the North and the East.

"However, we are not fully satisfied with the manner in which these issues are handled by the government. Several important problems such as the releasing of lands, disappeared persons' issues and the releasing of political prisoners have to be addressed more positively. Therefore, the present government will also be sent home if it fails to address the key humanitarian issues in the North and the East."

The 150 houses built by Lyca were to be handed over to the beneficiaries by South Indian Tamil cinema super star Rajinikanth at a gala event in Vavuniya. However, he cancelled his visit to Sri Lanka following agitation by a Tamil Nadu politician opposing his visit to the Island.

Ranil's Japan tour

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who was on a well-timed official visit to Japan, a measure to balance off India, China and USA power building around Indian Ocean, called for closer cooperation between the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the Japanese Self-Defence Forces (JSDF) within a common platform to safeguard peace in the Indian Ocean.

Following a meeting with the Japanese Defence Minister, Tomomi Inada he said that further discussions on this must be carried out during Sri Lankan Navy Chief, Ravindra Wijegunaratne's visit to Japan in June.

"Sri Lanka's economic prosperity from ancient times depended on peace and stability in the Indian ocean region. We must cooperate as nations that believe in the importance of peace in the Indian Ocean," he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Wickremasinghe has emphatically mentioned that not a single port in Sri Lanka will be given for military purposes of foreign countries. He declared that the security responsibilities of the harbours in Sri Lanka are vested only with the Sri Lanka Navy. The Prime Minister emphasized that Sri Lanka would be dedicated to responsibilities for regional peace and security.

He emphasized on these matters at a leading investment business conference where he delivered the keynote address. The conference was jointly organized by the Japan Trade and Industries Chamber, the Japan Sri Lanka Business Cooperation Committee and Japan's new Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization under the guidance of the Japan Foreign Trade Organization. Nearly 300 leading Japanese entrepreneurs joined in this conference.

The Prime Minister further said that the basis of world trade is the Indo Pacific Region. He pointed out that all affiliated countries should take the initiatives of consolidating free ocean travel in the region and safeguarding peace.

Minister Malik Samarawickrema said that a friendly environment is being created in Sri Lanka for the investors and entrepreneurs. The Minister mentioned that laws are being enacted in the island nation so that all tasks could be got done via one institution.

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